Hamilton

Police sting revealed plans for gangland hits on Musitano family

Just months after Angelo Musitano was gunned down in his driveway, a fellow convicted mobster was caught on tape musing that Musitano’s brother, Pat, would be next.

A convicted mobster was caught on tape discussing the fate of the notorious Musitano brothers

Angelo Musitano (right) and Pat Musitano leaving Provincial Court for lunch in 1998. Angelo was killed in a targeted shooting in 2017, while Pat Musitano was shot outside his lawyer's office in Mississauga last week. (Hamilton Spectator)

Just months after Angelo Musitano was gunned down in his driveway, a fellow convicted mobster was caught on tape musing that Musitano's brother, Pat, would be next.

He was right. Pat Musitano was shot several times in front of his lawyer's office in Mississauga late last week.

Peel Regional Police confirmed Monday morning that the 51-year-old is still alive in a Toronto-area hospital and in critical condition.

Information about the fate of the Musitano brothers is included in court transcriptions of conversations recorded by a paid police agent as part of the case against Domenico and Giuseppe (Joey) Violi — a pair of Hamilton drug traffickers who were busted in a massive cross-border police operation dubbed "Project OTremens."

Both Violi brothers are currently doing time for drug trafficking.

In a secretly recorded conversation from September of 2017 where the police agent is infiltrating the New York City-based Bonanno crime family, he and Dom Violi discuss the Musitanos. This happened just months after Angelo Musitano was killed.

"The [police agent] stated that [he] would have thought that 'they' would have gotten rid of [Pat Musitano] before his brother, [Angelo Musitano]. D Violi stated that 'they' wanted to show [Pat Musitano]; that it was a message, D Violi thought," the court documents say.

"'They had told D Violi that before Christmas [Pat Musitano] would be gone; that that would be one headache out of the way."

It's not clear who the "they" mentioned here is.

'We should fix you too'

Pat Musitano wasn't gone by Christmas, though his house was shot up in June of that year.

In the court documents, Violi is quoted as saying the Musitanos were supporting the Cuntrera's — a crime family that has roots in Montreal and Toronto. Someone set a fire and shot up the home of Giuseppe Cuntrera, who is called "Big Joe" in the court documents, in 2017.

"'They' said, ok you support [them] we would fix you too. The [police agent] asked if [Pat Musitano] was around. D Violi stated that [P Musitano] was around, but that he was in hiding; that he was not in Hamilton, he was outside," the court documents say.

Bullet holes could be seen in one of the front windows of Pat Musitano's home in 2017. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The list of people who could want revenge against the Musitanos is likely long. The family is linked to convictions for bombings and extortion in the 1970s, as well as the hit on mobster Domenic Racco in the 1980s, and the murders of Johnny "Pops" Papalia and one of his lieutenants, Carmen Barillaro, in 1997.

The brothers reached a deal and pleaded to conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Barillaro. In turn, the charges against them in connection with Papalia's death were dropped. They were sentenced to 10 years in jail, and had made little noise since getting out — until bullets started flying once more.

An underworld power struggle

The Musitanos were once protected by an alliance with the famed Rizzuto crime family, based out of Montreal.

The 2013 death of reputed Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto created a power vacuum within the organization, and now warring factions have weakened the once mighty Montreal Mafia. That left the Musitanos to fend for themselves.

Violence linked to organized crime has surged in Ontario in recent months, and investigators believe these killings are part of some kind of underworld power struggle involving factions in the Toronto and Hamilton area.

An SUV was towed from the scene where Pat Musitano was shot last week. (Yanjun Li/CBC)

A Hamilton man is facing a murder charge in connection with Angelo Musitano's death. Two other suspects are wanted on Canada-wide warrants, but police believe they may have fled to Mexico.

Other recent mob-related deaths in Hamilton include Cece Luppino, the son of mobster Rocco Luppino, and Albert Iavarone, who police say also had connections to organized crime.

Det. Sgt. Peter Thom of Hamilton's major crime unit is the case manager for investigations into Angelo Musitano's death, along with the killings of both Iavarone and Luppino.

Thom previously told CBC News that Pat Musitano being shot could be part of an "ongoing feud."

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.